Die ongelooflike avonture van Hanna Hoekom is Tornado director Regardt van den Bergh’s latest film, based on the Sanlam Youth Prize winning novel of the same name by Marita van der Vyfer. The film was produced by Spookasem Productions with funding from KykNET.
Hanna Hoekom is just what you’d expect from Regardt, whose wholesome repertoire includes Hansie, Faith like Potatoes and The Gospel According to Matthew, but he’s quick to point out that it’s a family movie rather than a Christian film.
The film tells the tale of Hanna (Anneke Weidemann from Story of an African Farm, Known Gods and Charlie Jade), a teenager with a wild imagination, and her unconventional family. Seasoned South African actress Anna Mart van der Merwe, who won a SAFTA in 2006 for her role as Christelle in 7de Laan, plays Hanna’s artistic mother, while Gys de Villers plays her would-be actor step-father.
Hanna dreams of having a normal family, but her worse nightmare comes to life when she’s roped into a family holiday in the Botterberg. What follows includes a series of mishaps, family bonding and even the birth of a child.
Regardt was drawn to the film for numerous reasons, the biggest of which was language. “It is the first Afrikaans film I’ve directed in 18 years. It makes a big difference working in your own language. The process was like free association thinking.”
Executive producer and screenwriter Gustav Kuhn, who wrote and directed Ouma se Slim Kind, was also keen to make a film in his home language.
What sealed the deal for Regardt was that Marita’s novel is a prescribed school setwork book, which guaranteed an eager audience. “After I read her book and the screenplay, I was completely convinced that this was going to be an exceptional movie. I believe this is a good way to make our youth aware of literature and get them to read, like what’s happening with Spud. What struck me was Hanna’s way of telling the story and the manner in which she describes her motley family with affectionate humour,” says Regardt.
Marita provided comments for Gustav on his adaptation, although she had no direct involvement in the film.According to Gustav, Hanna Hoekom boasts a first in the South African movie industry: Hanna’s imaginings are depicted through animation. Covering 12 minutes of screen time, these animations are the handy work of Orijin in Cape Town.
Regardt says he decided to go with a mixture of live action and animation to set Hanna’s fantasies apart from her everyday life. “We shot the live action against a green screen and Orijin added their creative flair to enhance the scenes,” he explains.
Director of photography Tom Marais used the Canon 7D to film the live action scenes. Regard was pleased with the choice. “I felt that we got an amazing movie feel with this camera and the lenses we used. Truth be told, it’s the only camera Tom had, so we used it.”
In the novel, the family holiday takes place in the Cedarberg Mountains, but because of budget and logistical restraints, the shoot took place in Knysna.
The movie was shot over 26 days, which meant that filming took place six days a week. Apart from the tough schedule, the team also had to put up with life-threatening forest fires and extreme weather conditions, notably the drought in the region. “It had to rain for half the film so the technical crew made a rain system which surrounded the house. Thankfully, it worked very well.”
Another challenge for the director was working with young actors in a schedule where there was no time for long rehearsals and discussions. However, he praises Anneke’s work on the film, saying she did a particularly good job.
KykNET and Spookasem Productions are currently in discussion about the possibility of getting the DVD release to schools.
The film was edited by C.A. van Aswegen, with music from Riku Lätti and art direction from Willie Coetzee. Ras Oosthuizen was the line producer.
Die ongelooflike avonture van Hanna Hoekom opens on 13 August 2010 exclusively through Nu Metro.